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Army Ground War Outlasts Aztecs In Armed Forces Bowl

December 24th, 2017 · Tags:Cities · Sports


Chapman Under Center

Young players and fans attending the 2017 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl potentially may have learned the military term “hunker down.” … Talk about two quarterbacks playing under center!  

Both Ahmad Bradshaw for the Army West Point Black Knights and Christian Chapman of the San Diego State University Aztecs at times hunkered down “old school,” bending the knees and crouching under the center … barely visible to the defense … and the cameras.

Perhaps The Army hunkered just a little bit better, pulling out a win in the final seconds. Down by seven, Bradshaw and charges marched down the field in a grind-it-out offensive drive, lunging across the goal line with 18 seconds left in the game. Darnell Woolfolk brought Army within one point of SDSU on a one-yard dive, 35-34. But apparently Army was done hunkering … and they decided to go for the win with a two-point conversion, rather than kicking the PAT and sending the game into overtime.  Army’s two-point conversion was successful making it 36-34.


Final Rushing TD

Gutsy.  Love it.

“Take calculated risks.”

– Gen. George S. Patton Jr.

With only seconds left during the ensuing kickoff, The Aztecs made several lateral pitches and throws across the field, trying to break loose a miracle finish.  But Army intercepted  a lateral and ran the ball back for the final score, 42-35. (Interesting … scored as a “fumble” on the official game stats.  I did not know that.)

And don’t think the ground game can’t be productive.  The teams combined for 726 total yards of offense, only 31 of those in the air. That’s crazy! Pity … the final stat sheet doesn’t include the number of pitches from the quarterback option.  Although — to me — it seemed that Bradshaw opted to keep the ball rather than pitch much more this year (compared to our covering Army in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last season).


Bradshaw On The Run


Run For Daylight

Bradshaw led the Black Knights with 180 yards on the ground.  The Aztecs’ Rashaad Penny led all ground-gainers with 221 yards and a bountiful four touchdowns on the day.  The Armed Forces Bowl marked Penny’s fifth consecutive game rushing for 200 yards or more, tying an FBS record.  Penny also set an Armed Forces Bowl record for the longest rushing touchdown, just 1:24 into the game, with an 81-yard scamper, drawing first blood.


Lead Blocker Bawden & Penny


Penny, Big Screen

This was funny, as I left the sidelines to return to the press box, several other reporters and I overheard the intercom announce the very first Army pass attempt of the game … Ha … Army finally launched and we missed it.  On the day, Bradshaw was 1 of 3 for a glorious six yards.  (I guess I can say that was a six-yard elevator ride … I digress …) Later, Army receiver Kjetil Cline threw 30 percent as many passes as Bradshaw … “completing” his single pass to the other team unfortunately, on an ambitious end-around reverse-and-pass gadget play.




Reverse Pass

On the sidelines, trying to photograph the action, most of the day or at least during the Army’s clock-eating, quarterback-option attack I just focused my camera on #17 (Bradshaw) … that’s where the action and the shot would be … I digress …

The Aztec signal caller, Chapman, was the golden arm of the day, completing six of 10 passes for 25 yards (and one interception).  Yes … a war in the trenches, but still an exciting, fairly high-scoring fight to the finish.

Penalties were one of the more lopsided stats of the day.  Army was flagged just four times for 47 yards.  The Aztecs were backed up 82 yards on 10 infractions.  Among the more egregious SDSU penalties, late hits and at least one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, resulting in the ejection of a leading defender.  If I might editorialize (hey it’s my blog):

An Aztec fan and I discussed the disparity in penalties on the sidelines, because it almost seemed like the military “horse in the race” may have been getting the old “home field advantage” in the military bowl.  I can’t say … but … it would seem to me that if you are playing Army — the team that represents the most disciplined body on the planet — you might want to keep your adrenaline in check … or at least shut it off when the whistle blows.




Daddy’s Home

Overall, a great football game … And lots of patriotism and military might on display throughout Fort Worth. On the field during breaks, sponsors presented checks to non-profit organizations.  A Wounded Warrior received a new truck … But my favorite moment of the day was during a tv commercial that stopped action on the field.  The bowl team announced that a young Army wife and her children would walk on the field to see a special scoreboard video message from their GI who was deployed overseas.  When the video streamed on the Jumbotron, and the family watched, a camouflage-clad soldier snuck up behind them, kissing and hugging these ladies.  Ha … yes … the dad was actually brought to the game to their surprise.  The mother and daughters were quite surprised … and hugged and teared up freely … It was very heartwarming.

Know what I sayin?